Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Just a quick post today.

Congrats to all those who have finished with their NaNo projects. I've heard fun was had by all.

As it is the last day of the official NaNo, it is also the last day of NaNoQuerMo.

My stats --

13 queries out

1 rejection

1 full request

Which, as you know, sent me into hyperspace for about two weeks. Still no word on anything else. (Which is why I only sent out 10 more...I know these won't come back until after the holidays and I'm perfectly fine with that.) So there you have the official NaNoQuerMo stats.

Anyone else want to share?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hugh Grant

Good Monday Morning everyone. I hope your weekends were filled with lots of leftovers and lazy laying about.

Anyway, this morning's post is about Hugh Grant. I was never a Hugh Grant fan. Oh yeah, sure I liked him, he was kinda like Keannu Reeves that way, he was cute, but meh, not really for me. Don't get me wrong, I ADORED him in Sense & Sensibility (even Monster Baby loves him as Edward) but Notting Hill, Bridget Jones Diary, Four Weddings..., nah, Hugh just wasn't...IT.

UNTIL I saw him in Music & Lyrics with Drew Barrymore. (I'm a few years late but older movies are like my TBR pile only these are TBS --To Be Seen)

Now I don't know if I loved him in this because he was finally playing a character I could relate to -- he's older, cynical and just a little jaded -- OR if it was because he could sing. (If you haven't seen the movie yet, do find it and watch. I don't think you'll be disappointed but this post isn't about that.)

It's about doing something you've never done before. Hugh Grant sings. Who 'da thunk it. Don't get me wrong, he's not a very good singer, not like Michael Buble by any sort of the imagination, but he does have a very lovely voice.

I Wiki'd him and read the article and it said that Hugh Grant had never sung before. (This article also said he doesn't have CD's for music and he doesn't listen to any but I don't know how that could be -- doesn't everybody listen to music at some point or other???)

ANY-HOO, I also watched the director's notes and Hugh talks about how he had to LEARN how to sing, and play the piano for this role. (Being in the theatre in another life, yes, you do have to learn how to sing for performances and how to read music and such) however, I found it extraordinarily amazing that Mr. Grant did so. He doesn't seem like the sort of movie star who would do that.

But he did. And it was pretty good.

And so my darlings, all of this leads me to ask -- is there something you've learned to become better at what you do? As writers we're always learning (or at least supposed to be learning) how to be better at our craft...what was something you've learned that you hadn't known before?

(I'll say that I learned how to blog. You all know about my crazy technological fears, so I think blogging was something I overcame to become a better writer. Meeting all of you has certainly helped my craft. Oh, and comma's. I learned about comma's.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Monster Baby has been practicing what she's going to say at the dinner table tomorrow -- what she's thankful for. The quick list -- Mommy, Puppa & Yo-Yo, Spotty, Fluffy, Henry, her toys and her new school.

My short list -- my daughter (The Biggest Monster Baby in the world whom I love with all my heart), my parents (of course), my writing (without which I would die) and


Yes, that's right. YOU. ALL OF YOU. Each and every single pixilated face in my followers list and then some.

If it hadn't been for the blogging community, I wouldn't be where I am today in my writing. This blogosphere is the find of the century as far as I'm concerned, better than any book, any manual, any course I could have ever taken at college.

YOU are always so giving with advice and good cheer and commiseration, it's hard to even think of one person in the real world who gives me as much as all of you do. YOU make me laugh and cry, and think about my stories and what real writing is. YOU are the BEST colleagues I could have ever asked for and what I have been given is a gift -- a true gift -- of which I am profoundly thankful.

Please drive safely, don't eat too much, and be thankful for what you have. There is always somebody else who has less than you.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Technologically Challenged

I asked my daughter last week what she wanted for Christmas. She said a remote controlled dog. (Which I thought was insane, we have two perfectly good "real" dogs she can play with.) I said I would discusss it with Santa.

I asked her again, the other night, what she wanted. She said, (are you ready for this) "... a phone that has pictures, and movies, and songs. You know, the kind the kind that has the best games."

Logical Mommy replied, "I don't even have a phone like that. Why do you want that?"

And she said, "Phone games are smarter. I can beat all the levels on my game-girl and my computer (both by LeapFrog). I want to be challenged."

I almost dropped what I was holding.

I hate computer games. (Remember how old I am for a second here. Some of you may not know what I'm talking about.) I never played Pac-Man. Don't really know who Pong was... or was it Kong. I never desired to hang with Super Mario. I cried when they took the pinball machine out of the club I was working in and replaced it with some race car driver machine that all the guys loved.

I typed my stories for YEARS on a Smith-Corona. My big thrill was when they came out with the eraser tape dispenser. I balked at getting a computer. I got a word processer instead. (This was when computers were expensive, they were practically brand new to the modern era.)

Give me a man tool, for inside or out. I can understand that. Give me a recipe. Give me laundry, a weed-wacker, or any other physical task and I'm on it. Ask me to do anything other than write my stories with my brain -- forget it. You should see my checkbook. (But that's really math and that's a whole other post.)

I am Technologically Challenged.

I am scared to death to start a Face Book account. Dont' even talk to me about Twitter. I have no idea what a hash tag is...(but if I had to guess, I'd say it has something to do with potatoes) and quite frankly, I don't want to.

Thinking of starting a web-site has me sick to my stomach. I write in different genres with different pen names...does that mean I need three different web-sites? Oh. My. God. What have I gotten myself into?

As a writer, when I'm doing my physical tasks (and there are many at my house), that's when I do my best writing. If I'm lucky, it makes it to the page. I've been noticing lately, I'm using pen and paper. I don't know why.

Perhaps because when I started writing, way back when (when the dinosaurs were alive) I used pen and paper. It has been somewhat of an awakening. Does it make a difference in my writing? I have noticed, what goes down on the page is longer, more verbose, purple, if you will. When I transfer it to .doc, it becomes less.

Is modern technology wiping out my need for the more elegant language of times past? Sometimes I like to let the words on the page linger for a second, give me another way of looking at something, the -ly's, the adverbs.

I've watched our world transform in the last 40 years from Leave it to Beaver to The Jetsons. It's a scary thing to me. I guess I've been reincarnated in the wrong era or something.

I've been thinking for quite some time about getting Monster Baby her own, real computer. (I won't let her use mine. She crashed my last one and lost 60k of the orginal MASQUERADE ms.) My cousin Tommy is a... (see, I don't even know what he is but I call him a computer genius)...computer genius and made me my computer from spare parts. His kids have had their own computers since they were born. (Both of them are now on the "Fast Track Elevated Learning Program" at their school. Got this info from my cousin, his mother, yesterday.) Tommy can download all kinds of games and things for Monster Baby so she can be "challenged". Which might not be a bad thing.

When she's older, I can watch over her shoulder while she opens my FaceBook and Twitter accounts for me.

How do you feel about modern technology?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Pie and the Cousins

Good Monday morning everyone. I hope all is going well this fine day. This will not be a post related in any way, shape, or form to writing. Just so you know.

I'm recuperating. From what you may ask -- well, I'll tell you.

My cousins are coming in this afternoon for the holiday week. I was supposed to make the pumpkin pies over the weekend. (From real pumpkins -- how much fun...)

Buuuuttttt.....my mother got it in her head to rip up the hallway rug Thursday night. 3 feet wide, 20 feet long. She's not supposed to be doing heavy physical labor. My father is a mess. Guess who had to help.

Fast track to Friday afternoon, where we spent almost 2 hours finding a rug to lay down in the hallway so the cousins wouldn't have to look at the subfloor. I told my mother we could paint the subfloor brown, so you wouldn't really notice it under the new rug. That was the plan. Simple Easy Quick. Right?

Saturday morning my father said he would go get the paint. (He felt a little better.) He came back with cheap laminate to lay down on the subfloor. Huh? Okay, I'll go with it. How hard can it be? Problem is, they have door frames. So we had to cut grooves in the laminate. Which, for most normal people, wouldn't have been that much of a problem. My father (who is a master caprenter and can't do anything without a ruler, level and square) took almost 3 hours to cut grooves in the laminate. Guess who had to do the rest?

I have been on my hands and knees for two days (because even though most normal people can lay a laminate floor in 4 hours, my father was looking over my shoulder.) I had to pull up the staples from the carpet, fill in holes with wood filler, sand those, vaccuum twice with the shop vac (that I had to drag upstairs from the basement) and then I had to cut the bottom of the door frames off so the laminate would fit UNDER the door frames. How much fun was that? Sawdust, grit, my mother bitching about the shop vac making more dust, how was she supposed to cook.) Then my father sat and dictated how I should lay the laminate, carefully, perfectly, because we couldn't afford any mistakes. (He'd made so many mistakes cutting the door frames he didn't think there would be enough to finish the floor and was damned if he'd go back and buy more. He forgot I could get down on my hands and knees to cut the door frames, so he was thinking maybe they should put in a real floor now. Argh!)

Needless to say, I didn't make the pies.

Do you do stuff like this? Have you ever taken on a DIY project that was supposed to be simple and it turns into Godzilla meets This Old House?

*** I did get to make the pumpkin pies this morning -- although, I dropped the mixing bowl into the other already poured pie, and it erupted like Mt. Vesuvius. All OVER the kitchen counter, the cabinet on the other side, the canisters and ALL the utensils in the pitcher. Down the counter cabinets and onto the floor. Luckily the dogs were in the house and they ate that. My cousins are arriving at ten.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On the menu today – Thanksgiving

Today I thought, I would share with you some helpful hints I’ve picked up over the course of my years as a chef to help you deal with cooking the bird next Thursday. Seems the least I could do considering I haven’t had a contest yet.

Anyway, for those of you cooking this year, here are some quick tips –

If your bird is frozen when you buy it, take it out on Monday to defrost. Still in plastic wrapper, put it in the kitchen sink when you get up in the morning. Put it back in the fridge Monday night before you go to bed. Leave it in the fridge until you are ready to cook. (Unless you live somewhere its 70 degrees, then only leave it out until lunchtime.)

Wash your turkey inside out. I know it’s a pain, the guts and juice splatter all over the place, and you drop it twice on the floor, never fails, but you have to rinse it out. And pat it dry, especially inside the bottom. Don’t leave water pooling in the guts.

I cook my stuffing the day before (sometimes two depending on what else I have to cook) and keep it cold until I stuff the turkey. NEVER stuff a cold turkey with hot dressing. (I could explain about the salmonella and possible botulism but I don’t want to take up too much of your time.)

Loose Measurements –

Pinch – two fingers or half teaspoon
A Little Bit – three fingers or full teaspoon
A Sprinkle – product around the circumference of the bowl or quarter cup
Handful – 4 ounces or half cup

Remember your pets. DO NOT give them fat, cooked, or not, skin, raw or cooked, or gravy. Too much fat content can mess with their billirubins and cause them to go into liver failure. (We lost a dog because of this one year and it was not fun. He got into someone’s trash and ate a coffee can full of leftover grease and turkey fat.) NO BONES for either dog or cat; they splinter and could lodge anywhere.

If its’ cold enough, I use my car as a temporary fridge. Especially the day after Thanksgiving. (I did go shopping one year with pies and half of a dessert tray under my hatchback. Needless to say, that year, I spent too much money because I had ready food.)

Remember why you’ve come together. I always forget when my mother is bitching about my father who’s watching the game too loud and Monster Baby already dirty before my aunt and uncle and cousins get there. You know, the family crap. It’s what keeps you going back, year after year, even if the bird is too dry and Uncle Vic is still kind of icky. Love the ones you’re with. Or at least fake it. Especially when your sister-in-law shows up with her sparkly new whatever.

My biggest suggestion, and I know I shouldn’t even bother with this because I know, as writers, you already do this – Make a list of what you need to do. Prioritize. Make a menu. This will help you focus. Make a time chart for the oven, what needs to go in at what time so everything is hot on the table. Make a list of things to do if guests (children, husbands should ask – Do you want me to do something?) By the end of Thanksgiving Day, I generally have about six pages of written notes. (I have a scrapbook full of stuff, someday I’m gonna write a real book…)

If you have any questions about thanksgiving recipes, or cooking, or even kitchen utensils, please feel free to ask me in the comments. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Muse

Tara asked me yesterday if my newly found muse was hot. Yeah, I would say so.

Strictly speaking, I would never go out with him, he's got that whole bad boy thing going on and as much as it pains me to admit it, I don't know what I'd do with him.
BUT to just gaze upon, while he rests his feet on the back of my couch while he dictates his next S.N.I. Yeah, I guess I could put up with him. Besides, he's wicked funny and loves to get my goat. Cad.

Isn't he just the cutest li'l thing.

He reminds me of Peter Pan, with the whole lost boy image, flying here, there and everywhere just to get into trouble. But damn, he does have some good ideas. And he does look good in a kilt. (Sorry, no pictures to be found.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Or as we like to call them -- Shiny New Idea.

My muse, as you know, finally introduced himself to me about a month ago. He gave me a Shiny New Idea right before I started querying. I could have killed him.

But, I went with the flow and wrote about 6k to a story I started last year but knew I had to rewrite. So I did. And it was good.

So, I was cruising along, writing some stuff, getting the house in order for next week, not really pushing myself the way I usually do (haven't felt all that swell the last few days).

And then, the little bounder smacked me upside the head again, with not one, not two, but three shiny new ideas. I've been scribbling notes furiously. I have notebooks and pens scattered all over the house, in the car, in the bathroom. I can't get back to the original idea because the new ones have taken over my brain.

I have people in my head all the time as it is. Why do I feel like Patty Duke in that movie?

What do you do when you get more than one idea at a time? Do you write them down? Do you pick the best one and flesh that out? Do you take notes for the others? What's your strategy when the muse smacks you with multiples?

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's a Long Way

Good Monday morning, gentle readers. I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend.

I was sitting, thinking, and a song popped into my head.

"It's a long way, to the top, if you want to rock and roll." AC/DC

Yes. Yes it is.

Without ALL the blather -- As with every war, it's the small victories that add up. The small challenges that somehow make us realize we are winning. Same with writing. Challenges -- Victories. So how do you measure your victories to the top? Nailing a scene. Pulling together a troublesome chapter? Finishing the first draft? Writing a query?

When do you reward yourself? And with what?

****I'll go first. I rewarded myself with a bag of caramel popcorn for finishing the short story for NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND. And when I finally finished the last 4 scenes of REMEMBERING YOU I took myself for a drive around the outskirts of town to look at the foliage.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On the menu today -- Beef stew with dumplings. (It's so fall-y here, stew is just the thing.)

Well sports fans, after last week's query mania I have run the gamut of emotions from over the top to down at the bottom again. Gotta love that query process.

I wonder if those of us who are 40-something and older, have the same emotional range that younger writers have. OR is it higher? We have seen so much more of life. We have been in "the world". As "mature" writers do we throw in the towel more often than our younger counterparts? Or do we have the *ahem* maturity and patience to keep going that young people don't?

I've spoken to three writers who are, for the most part, my age and we are all having almost the same reaction to the query process. We are all querying our second books. We second guess our brilliance and our voices and our stories. It sucks. In any other given situation we are confident and strong and know who we are and what we stand for. In the query process we have been reduced to babbling 4 year olds who cry and whine and revert to the deepest levels of self-doubt and reduced ego.

I think, perhaps, as writers now, in this day and age, we (the older writers) are just trying to gain our place in immortality, and the more rejections we garner, the easier it is to think we will never gain that goal. We have, what, twenty years left to write? (As opposed to the 20 or 30 year olds.) To make some kind of impression on the world with our work. And the longer it takes for that to happen, the more we find ourselves withering away inside, where it counts.

Is our level of maturity, going to help or hinder our writing abilities? Is our age going to make or break us?

Writing is hard work. We all know that. But is it harder when you're "mature"? I know I couldn't have written either of the books I finished when I was 20, or even 30for that matter. I don't want to be known as a one-hit-wonder, I don't think any of us does.

So my question to you, dear readers is this -- Do you think you'll be doing this writing thing for awhile, or are you just trying it out to see? Are you in it for the long haul?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Write What You Know

Now we've all heard this before -- write what you know. (There's also -- Write What you Love -- but that's another blogpost.)

In REMEMBERING YOU, I didn't have to go far for Genna's career. I was a chef. Actually, I started out as a lavastoviglie (dishwasher) and ended up executive kitchen manager at a small inn/banquet facility in Rhode Island. I also had several other hundred jobs in the restaurant field over the course of my career. I have done everything in a restaurant except hostess. (Don't know why.)

So it wasn't much of a stretch when it came to carving out Genna's career arc and her story-line. People in the restaurant industry burn out quickly. Late nights, alcohol, long hours. It might be easy, fast money but the toll on a body and mind is great. Which is why there's such a big turnover in the industry. But once you find a great "house" you stay there for as long as you can. Sometimes you never leave and that was how I sort of felt about the inn. (I ended up being there for eleven years.)

For Genna, her main conflict was whether or not to stay at her job or come home to her family. When I worked, I missed several major holidays a year, not to mention lesser ones. Weekends, nights, days, mornings, were all eaten up by the job. No vacations, barely time off, it's a price you pay to be the best. Sure I made a boat load of money, and had excellent health coverage, but I didn't see my family for about 15 years. True story. I was focused on my career.

So coming up with Genna's storyline wasn't that much of a stretch. I was faced with a similar situation. I had the option of remaining in the head chef's position or leaving to start my own business. Which was a major decision at the time -- do I stay with the money, or keep my sanity? I decided to keep my sanity.

I knew it would come in handy someday. Now I'm writing about it.

Tell me -- Do you write what you know? Have you put one of your situations in a book (or perhaps stolen someone else's)?

Monday, November 8, 2010


Good Monday morning, everyone. I absolutely cannot thank you enough for your generous support and kind, kind words from last Friday's post. I have been in such a tizzy (between real life and writing life) I'm kind of at that mushy stage right now. Where my brain doesn't work and everything is wobbly.

I sent out the ms. to the agent who requested. Let me tell you how long it took my finger to finally hit the send button.... I've never been so scared in my life. What if she hates it and I wait how many months to find out? But then, what if she loves it and wants to represent me?

What am I going to do if all my dreams come true?

Well, I'll tell you what I'm going to do today, right now. I'm going to clean my filthy pig-sty of a house. You cannot even imagine it. I know, neither could my mother when she stopped over. (Oh the joy of being 8 years old again -- When are you going to clean this room?)

Which of course got me to wondering how many of you let things go when you're writing. Is it just me, or do we all have those -- It can wait til tomorrow -- moments when we're in the "zone". Of course now, I have somewhat of a small excuse, I didn't have hot water for a few days so the laundry is piled sky high. However I did manage to get the dishes done. But vacuuming has fallen to the way side and I think even the dust bunnies are in revolt.

Is it just me? Please tell me no. Please tell me I'm not the only one who lets the housework slide. Also, please tell me not to feel so damn guilty.

And if you want to leave an anonymous comment, you're more than welcome. I won't tell if your house is dirty.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On the menu today -- HOLY CRAP BATMAN! IT HAPPENED!!!

I sent out 3, just 3 queries to my top dream agents on Tuesday. I received one automated rejection on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday --


Off a query! In less than a day! I told you I would pee my pants and I did. Okay, sorry to be so gross but that's what you get from jumping up and down and screaming for twenty minutes. I scared Monster Baby. She thought I was on fire.

I'm shaking as I type this. I cannot tell you how excited I am. I cannot believe it. I cannot get the thoughts of sugar plums dancing out of my head. I'm a mess. It's a good thing you can't see me. It's a good thing you can't hear me. I've been going back and forth -- what if she loves it -- what if she hates it? Oh. My. God.

I don't know how I'm going to live with myself until she gets back to me. I don't know how you're all going to put up with me. I guess I just won't blog. Yeah, no, that won't happen.

But seriously, here's a question -- Because she's my dream agent, and I don't know how long it will take her to get back to me -- do you think I should keep sending out to other agents? I don't really want to. But I feel like I should. I'd hate to waste 3 months waiting to send out, especially if she rejects it. She knows it's a multiple submission and she didn't ask for an exclusive so I guess I could.

What would you do?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

well, just... well

It's been an interesting week thus far. My hypochondriac father has decided he's dying. He FINALLY quit smoking after 50 years and a bout with lung cancer 5 years ago. He doesn't understand the reason he feels so awful is the nicotine withdrawals. He's been to every doctor in his HMO over the course of the last two weeks and he swears they don't care about his predicament. There is nothing wrong with him. Every x-ray, cat scan, MRI and every other damn test they've done on him has come back negative. They've been telling him for months he has to get out and WALK. That's all he has to do, and he refuses. Oh, the curmudgeon is driving us all over the edge.

My hot water heater blew up last Friday morning. I finally had it fixed on Monday, however, I still had no hot water as of yesterday morning. Justin, the little plumber, showed up at noon on his lunch hour to play with the reset button and the breaker panel yesterday and YAY, I could finally take a shower and do the dishes. Good thing too, I had one plate and cup left clean for Monster Baby. (Bet you thought I was going to say I stank. We did shower at my folk's house.)

I'm still picking up from the tornado. More than likely, I'll still be picking up next spring. I also finished filling in the massive hole in my backyard. YAY! Hopefully, next summer I'll be able to ride the lawn mower straight down the backyard instead of riding around in circles.

I've also sent out the first 3 of my queries for NaNoQuerMo. I'll tell you what, now I know why I've been stalling. It's scary stuff man. To think after all this time, I might have a shot at landing an agent. (Not that I'm conceited or anything, it'll only take one rejection to bring me right back down to earth...) But I like my book. I like my story. A lot of people do. If an agent does and requests, I think I'll probably pee my pants. This query go-round has so much more at stake than it did last year with MASQUERADE. This is the big time, probably my last shot before I have to find a real job. Like my brother used to say, "This ain't no behbee's game."

I decided to bring all my agent "stuff" with me yesterday when I sat in the pick-up line for Monster Baby and got myself a manageable list of agents. When I got back home, I went online and looked up all the agents and their web-sites. I then made another list for those who rep women's fiction and historical romance. Then, I wrote the list in order of who I want to be my one and only agent extraordinaire.

Which, I think, any of the three I've queried so far would be terrific. I know I shouldn't have queried the top three first but, I like to shoot the moon. Hey, you never know right?

Why does the telephone always ring right when I'm in the middle of a big scene? Not that I answer the phone between the hours of 8am and 1pm but I have to listen to the machine to see if it's my parents. Why do the dogs bark at someone or something in the yard right when I'm thinking of the most fantastic line I've ever composed and I have to get up and see what or who it is? Why does my stomach growl when I've finally figured out the best way to end a scene but haven't written it down yet and by the time I get back with my PB&J my mind is a blank?

Could someone please tell me why I'm a writer? Wasn't life easier when I was a chef?

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNo -- A New Twist

Happy NaNo everyone. Although I'm not participating this year, (after much deliberation and forethought, I realized even though I have a great story and a lot of the backstory already tackled, it's just too much pressure) I found another idea.

It's not my idea. It's from Tracy at Forever Endeavor. It's called NaNoQUERMo. National Novel Query Month. Isn't that awesome just covered in sauce?

30 days. 30 Queries out to Agents. I can't believe how easy this sounds.

I've been waiting to query, it seems like forever, and I keep putting if off. If not now, when? I had high hopes of getting the query out by October 1 but it didn't happen. Real life happens, tornadoes happen, hot water heaters blowing up happens, father's getting sick happens... if I let real life keep getting in my way, then querying will never happen.

So I'm biting the bullet and going for it. Anyone else for NaNoQUERMo? I know a bunch of us are in the same boat -- ready to query. Will you join me and Tracy in the high seas of rejections, the rough waters of anticipation, the swell of partial/full requests? What have you got to lose?